Duro Olowu has taken a sideways-on approach to becoming a presence at London fashion week. Building a business from his Portobello Road store, he first emerged as the designer of a single dressan internationally recognized, flowy, patchworked print frock. Now, in his second season on the runway, he stepped up to the next level with an accomplished collection inspired, he said, by "the colors of the great jewels of the maharanis of India, the Baroda pearls, emeralds, and rubies."
Not that it was a literal trip around the subcontinent. Olowu focused on a put-together look, opening with a jade-green, belted tailored pantsuit and a ruffled shirt in navy gingham, with a sparkling brooch at the neckchic, down to the flat snakeskin sandals. He caught the London mood for color and breezy prints in an individual way with flowered dresses falling to the mid-calf and ending in ruffled hemlines. Simple shapes, maybe, but Olowu's uniqueness lies in his sure-handed way of sourcing precious old-school couture fabrics, and piecing them together in unexpected combinations. Thus, the familiar "Duro dress" has transitioned into a trapeze shape with tiered volume in front, cut from bolts of vintage couture silks, and detailed with patches of sequin. In all, it was a confirmation that this Nigerian-born designer has a clarity of vision that can build a brandand an imaginative empathy that helps him design clothes women like to wear, come summer.